Heavy rain has been falling in Western Japan since July 5, causing flooding and triggering mudslides. More than 4.7 million people were under evacuation orders due to the record rainfall.
On July 7, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga held a press conference in which he reported that there had been almost 100 rescue operations performed, and that roughly 48,000 emergency responders – police, firefighters and Self-Defense Forces (effectively a Japanese National Guard) had been deployed for such operations. (Asahi Shimbum)
More operations were conducted throughout the day, and as the rains diminished in places (a lighter rain, only 2 to 10 inches depending on the area, was expected from the 7th through the 8th) damage assessments became possible.
The official death toll stood at 8 on Friday morning, and has already risen above 50 confirmed dead. They include:
On Nuwa Island, offshore from the prefectural capital of Matsuyama, a woman in her 30s and her two children were killed when a mudslide hit their home. (Japan Times)
Kazuhiko Miyane, 59, who was confirmed dead after being found in a swollen river in Akitakata, Hiroshima Prefecture, at about 6 a.m. He is believed to have been washed away from near his house, police said. Sachie Takigami, a 52-year-old woman from Kameoka in Kyoto Prefecture was also found dead in the river in neighboring Osaka Prefecture after she was apparently swept away on the Kameoka side by the same river. (Japan Times)
In Ozu, Ehime Prefecture, a 95-year-old woman died in a mudslide that hit her home. (Japan News)
In Kasaoka, Okayama Prefecture, six workers were buried when a landslide crashed into their factory early Saturday morning. One of the workers was later confirmed dead. (Japan Times)
A woman who had gone missing after leaving her home in Kameoka, Kyoto Prefecture, in her car was found dead in a river in Nose, Osaka Prefecture, on Friday. (Japan News)
There are still more than 100 people who are reported as missing, with the last reports from many of them being that they were buried alive in their homes by landslides. In the city of Kurashiki, the embankment of a river broke and at least three homes were knocked from their foundations. City officials are having trouble determining just how many residents are missing. (Asahi Shimbun)
The rescue operations are resulting in familiar images: people stranded on rooftops, rivers flowing through city streets, pop-up lakes with the tops of cars and buildings underneath.